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Saturday,  April 20, 2024 10:46 PM 

Monday Minute: Laura Kelly of Elsewhere by Laura

  • Agency
  •   03-25-2024  1:05 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Monday Minute: Laura Kelly of Elsewhere by Laura
Laura Kelly of Elsewhere by Laura, seen here in Paris, France. (Supplied)
Pax Global Media

The Monday Minute is a weekly feature in PAX that highlights the movers, shakers, leaders and rule breakers in Canada's travel advisor community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email!

Name: Laura Kelly

Business: Elsewhere by Laura

Where do you live?

I live in the beautiful and scenic French River area of Northern Ontario, a popular destination for fishing, boating and outdoor fun.

How long have you been a travel advisor?

I have been in the industry for nine years, starting my career with Merit Travel Sudbury before founding Elsewhere by Laura in 2020 with Travel Edge Network, which aligned with my goals and supported my growth into the luxury sales market.

What is your specialty?

I specialize in highly-customized itineraries and celebration travel worldwide, with a focus on authentic, immersive experiences. Europe (Italy, France and Portugal in particular) and Mexico are among my top selling destinations.

Laura seen here in Egypt. (Supplied)

What inspired you to become a travel advisor?

I grew up reading National Geographic Traveler with my father, which opened my eyes to the world and sparked my curiosity in learning about faraway places and cultures. Our family travels added fuel to the fire and my passion grew from there, embarking on my own solo journeys after graduation and taking the leap into the industry following my move to a new city.

What’s the first trip you ever took?

My first big trip outside of Canada was a Caribbean cruise as a child. I remember going to the travel agency with my parents and pouring over the glossy brochures, involved in every detail of the planning from the cabin selection to the shore excursions and dining reservations. I was instantly hooked and would end up doing a placement at that same agency as part of my travel and tourism degree many years later.

What travel trends are you seeing these days?

The biggest trend that I have seen in recent years is a huge increase in multi-generational travel with families taking annual vacations as a group, embracing the time together and opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime – whether it be a private villa beach escape or an immersive exploration across Italy. People have also realized that it is essential to plan ahead, now consistently booking their travels six to 12 months in advance to help guarantee the best pricing and availability.

Laura in Venice, Italy. (Supplied)

Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?

I have been fortunate to work on so many special itineraries, but one that really stands out was a father-daughter adventure in Australia. They were visiting for a work conference for the family business and entrusted me with their plans around it, giving me full control and room to play. I ended up putting together an experience from Sydney up to the Gold Coast and ending with a magical stay at Qualia in the Whitsundays – including a helicopter tour to their own stretch of private sand with a champagne picnic lunch.

What’s the most memorable trip you ever took?

This is a challenging question for any traveller as each trip is unique and special in its own way, but one that really stands out for me is Morocco. I went with my best friend during a difficult time shortly after losing my father. We spent a week travelling across the country with a local driver guide, traversing a range of landscapes and sites, following in the steps of the Berber nomads in the Atlas Mountains, hunting for goulimine beads, eating the most delicious (and very questionable) meat from a local roadside restaurant, experiencing a truly authentic (and traumatizing) hammam, and sleeping under the stars in the desert. It is a magical place and adventure I will never forget.

Laura visits Iceland. (Supplied)

Where do you see your business one year from now?

I am really proud of all that I have accomplished at this stage of my career and strive to be strategic in my growth with a focus on quality over quantity. I would love to look back a year from now and have a solid foundation and systems in place to maintain a healthy work-life balance while ensuring the best possible client experience and ability to continue travelling regularly myself. My travel goals include furthering my education and firsthand experience in South America and Africa while starting to explore opportunities for content creation along the way.

What’s one new skill you’ve acquired recently?

I have been working on creating reels. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I am a very visual person and love the opportunity to incorporate this creative outlet into my business.

What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?

I would bring travel and tourism programs back into our schools with mandatory workplace experience and more stringent licensing requirements in place in order to sell travel to the public. This would maintain the integrity of the industry, protect the consumer’s best interests, and help pave the way for those looking to start their careers.

Laura spotted in Paris, France. (Supplied)

What’s the secret to being successful in this business?

There is no secret ingredient. It all comes down to hard work, passion and dedication. Come in with a hunger and an open mind. Put in the hours and take on every challenge that comes your way. Align yourself with a host agency like Travel Edge that will provide the technology and support that you need to grow. Say yes to opportunities and do things that take you outside of your comfort zone in order to grow.

What is your motto?

Embrace elsewhere.

What is your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?

Travel often. Travelling yourself is the best investment you can make in your business. Be open to new experiences, apply to industry events and educational journeys. You will benefit in so many ways – learning about a new country or product, experiencing what your clients will see and do, forming new supplier partnerships and meeting other advisors and getting new perspectives and sharing ideas. It is the most valuable experience!

Where are you travelling next?

In April I’m heading to Sicily for TRUE and Argentina for EMOTIONS to meet with local partners and properties. Both are immersive luxury industry events.

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